SBJ/Dec. 9-15, 2013/Colleges

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  • Want a new gift suite choice? Take a seat

    This may be the one time college football players will be happy to take a seat.

    This year, alongside the high-end electronics, jewelry and mountain bikes in the gift suites that have become a staple at college football postseason festivities, there will be a home-theater recliner that users can plug their electronics into, as well.

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    SportsBusiness Journal’s eighth annual analysis of the gift packages provided to bowl game participants by the committees that host the games reveals that half of those organizations will stage a gift suite or shopping spree in the coming weeks. Gift suites are set up as private events prior to the game in which game participants, and often bowl VIPs, are given an order form and allowed to select a gift, or gifts, up to a value that is predetermined by each bowl, not to exceed the NCAA limit.

    The NCAA allows each bowl to award up to $550 worth of gifts to 125 participants per school. Schools can, and usually do, buy additional packages that they can distribute to participants beyond that 125 limit. In addition, participants can receive awards worth up to $400 from the school and up to $400 from the conference for postseason play, covering both conference title games and any bowl game.

    Making its gift suite debut this year will be Southern Motion’s Viva, a powered home theater recliner that has two USB ports that can charge mobile devices. The Pontotoc, Miss.-based furniture manufacturer also
    Southern Motion’s McLaren (top) and Viva chairs will debut in gift suites this year.
    will offer the larger McLaren, which does not plug in but features a steel base and a reinforced frame capable of accommodating even the largest offensive lineman.

    The chairs will be an option in each of the postseason gift suites operated over the next few weeks by Carrollton, Texas-based Performance Award Center. Jon Cooperstein, who leads PAC’s sports marketing division, is projecting that players and coaches will order a total of about 800 chairs.

    Southern Motion’s entrance into the bowl space is new territory for the company, although its products have been available for the past few years to some of PAC’s corporate rewards program clients. Cooperstein contacted Southern Motion’s executives this spring with what seemed like a natural opportunity to test a new demographic.

    Unlike most of the other companies that offer items to bowl participants, Southern Motion does almost no advertising. It doesn’t have a consumer-focused website, either.

    Nevada student athletes peruse choices at the New Mexico Bowl gift suite last year.
    “We do view this alliance as an avenue to do additional business through alternative channels of distribution,” said Beth Loden, Southern Motion’s strategic accounts director. “We are interested in exploring this opportunity as it does not conflict with our normal business model, which is through traditional retail stores.”

    Using the suites as a test market for big-ticket items is not new: Oakley and Sony in the past have stocked gift suites with new or not-yet-released items, meaning players and coaches get something their friends and family don’t have and can’t yet buy at a store.

    The recliners, along with the Sony PlayStation 4 systems being given out by the Military Bowl, could cost more than the NCAA limit of $550 if bought at a retail store, but bowl committees and gift brokers can negotiate a lower rate on products because they are buying in bulk. Cooperstein said the NCAA oversees what the committees actually pay for the items.

    Looking ahead, new bowl games scheduled to begin next year in Miami; the Bahamas; Boca Raton, Fla.; and Montgomery, Ala., would bring the total number of bowls to 39, meaning at least 1,000 additional bowl game participants and, of course, VIPs ordering swag. That timing works out for tenured vendors such as Oakley, which are constantly working to keep their offerings fresh. Oakley products will be in seven gift packages this winter, its lowest total in several years.

    “We are at the end phase of the product assortment we offer the bowl games, with a new assortment of products being released in spring 2014,” said Oakley’s Mike Sterner. “So next year, you’ll see a lot more games with Oakley accessories.”

    Including gift packages for players, cheerleaders, staff and VIPs, Fossil products will be handed out by 15 bowl committees this year. Sony, Trek and Ogio have the potential of being the top giveaways, as their products are available in nearly every gift suite.

    Representatives of the New Era Pinstripe Bowl would not disclose the contents of their gift packages, but New Era officials said bowl participants will receive a selection of the company’s products.

    Representatives of the AT&T Cotton Bowl also would not disclose the contents of their gift packages, but a source at a school that played in last year’s Cotton Bowl said the participants received a Fossil watch, Beats by Dre headphones and an iPad Mini.

    2013 Bowl Gifts to Participants

    Gildan New Mexico Bowl
    Sat., Dec. 21, 2 p.m. (ESPN); Albuquerque, N.M.
    Gift suite, portable mobile device charger, 8 GB USB; Oakley Breadbox sunglasses; cap, Oakley Fine Knit beanie; Oakley Flak Pack XL backpack; Gildan stadium blanket

    Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl
    Sat., Dec. 21, 3:30 p.m. (ABC); Las Vegas
    Samsung Galaxy Tab 3; beanie, cap; Oakley Flak Pack XL backpack; football, Zappos gift card

    Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
    Sat., Dec. 21, 5:30 p.m. (ESPN); Boise, Idaho
    Gift suite; Port Authority winter coat, Tiger Woods Nike Golf beanie, Scott winter ski gloves; iPack backpack; Big Game football

    R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
    Sat., Dec. 21, 9 p.m. (ESPN); New Orleans
    Gift suite; Fossil watch

    Beef ‘O’ Brady’s St. Petersburg Bowl
    Mon., Dec. 23, 2 p.m. (ESPN); St. Petersburg, Fla.
    Samsung Galaxy Tab 3;  Oakley Breadbox sunglasses; Oakley Status backpack (at right); Schutt mini helmet

    Sheraton Hawaii Bowl
    Tues., Dec. 24, 8 p.m. (ESPN); Honolulu
    Gift suite; Oakley sunglasses; Tori Richard aloha shirt, Pro Athletics shorts and performance T-shirt; Ogio backpack; beach towel

    Little Caesars Pizza Bowl
    Thurs., Dec. 26, 6 p.m. (ESPN); Detroit
    Timely Watch Co. watch; leather luggage set; football

    San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
    Thurs., Dec. 26, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN); San Diego
    $205 Best Buy gift card; Reactor Heavy Water watch; Maui Jim sunglasses; cap        

    Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman
    Fri., Dec. 27, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN); Annapolis, Md.
    Sony PlayStation 4; winter hat; Ogio backpack    

    Texas Bowl
    Fri., Dec. 27, 6 p.m. (ESPN); Houston
    Samsung Galaxy Tab 3; Fossil watch; belt buckle, T-shirt; Ogio backpack; lapel pin

    Fight Hunger Bowl
    Fri., Dec. 27, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN); San Francisco
    Soundmatters wireless portable speaker system; Fossil watch; Maxx HD Wayfarer sunglasses; messenger bag; Macy’s gift card

    New Era Pinstripe Bowl
    Sat., Dec. 28, 12 p.m. (ESPN); New York City
    Variety of New Era products

    Belk Bowl
    Sat., Dec. 28, 3:20 p.m. (ESPN); Charlotte
    Shopping trip to Belk department store; Fossil watch (at right)

    Russell Athletic Bowl
    Sat., Dec. 28, 6:45 p.m. (ESPN); Orlando
    $450 Best Buy gift card and shopping trip^; Timely Watch Co. watch; Russell Athletic workout shirt        

    Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl
    Sat., Dec. 28, 10:15 p.m. (ESPN); Tempe, Ariz.
    Gift suite; Fossil watch; Ogio Cube backpack    

    Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl
    Mon., Dec. 30, 11:45 a.m. (ESPN); Fort Worth, Texas
    Gift suite, RadioShack gift card; ESPN cap; Ogio overnighter bag; Big Game football

    Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
    Mon., Dec. 30, 3:15 p.m. (ESPN); Nashville
    Gift suite; Fossil watch (at right)

    Valero Alamo Bowl
    Mon., Dec. 30, 6:45 p.m. (ESPN); San Antonio
    iPad Mini with retina display, Apple gift card; Fossil watch; panoramic photo, Schutt mini helmet

    National University Holiday Bowl
    Mon., Dec. 30, 10:15 p.m. (ESPN); San Diego
    $305 Best Buy gift card; Reactor Meltdown watch; Maui Jim sunglasses; cap        

    AdvoCare V100 Bowl
    Tues., Dec. 31, 12:30 p.m. (ESPN); Shreveport, La.
    Gift suite; Timely Watch Co. watch; New Era skull cap; football

    Hyundai Sun Bowl
    Tues., Dec. 31, 2 p.m. (CBS); El Paso, Texas
    Gift suite; Timely Watch Co. watch; Top of the World cap, Majestic fleece pullover; Ogio backpack; coin, Helen of Troy hair dryer

    AutoZone Liberty Bowl
    Tues., Dec. 31, 4 p.m. (ESPN); Memphis
    Sol Republic Tracks HD headphones; Bulova watch; Nike sunglasses; Nike athletic shoes and sport sandals; Nike Kevin Durant backpack; football

    Chick-fil-A Bowl
    Tues., Dec. 31, 8 p.m. (ESPN); Atlanta
    Fossil watch; Russell Athletic cap; Russell Athletic bag; football, $300 Visa gift card, Chick-fil-A gift card Gator Bowl
    Wed., Jan. 1, 12 p.m. (ESPN2); Jacksonville
    Fossil watch; Dome hat; Mercury Luggage Seward Trunk luggage set; football, Jostens ring

    Heart of Dallas Bowl
    Wed., Jan. 1, 12 p.m. (ESPNU); Dallas
    Gift suite; Fitbit Flex watch; ESPN cap; football

    Capital One Bowl
    Wed., Jan. 1, 1 p.m. (ABC); Orlando
    $450 Best Buy gift card and shopping trip^; Timely Watch Co. watch; Russell Athletic workout shirt

    Outback Bowl
    Wed., Jan. 1, 1 p.m. (ESPN); Tampa
    $150 Best Buy gift card; Fossil watch; cap; Jostens ring, Outback Steakhouse gift card

    Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio
    Wed., Jan. 1, 5 p.m. (ESPN); Pasadena, Calif.
    Gift suite; Fossil watch; New Era 59Fifty cap; Ogio backpack    

    Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
    Wed., Jan. 1, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN); Glendale, Ariz.
    Gift suite; Fossil watch; Ogio Cube backpack    

    Allstate Sugar Bowl
    Thurs., Jan. 2, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN); New Orleans
    Gift suite; Fossil watch; New Era 39Thirty cap; Ogio backpack    

    AT&T Cotton Bowl
    Fri., Jan. 3, 7:30 p.m. (Fox); Arlington, Texas
    Information not available; bowl committee would not disclose

    Discover Orange Bowl
    Fri., Jan. 3, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN); Miami Gardens, Fla.
    Gift suite; Tourneau watch

    BBVA Compass Bowl
    Sat., Jan. 4, 1 p.m. (ESPN); Birmingham, Ala.
    Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 (at right); Fossil watch; Oakley sunglasses; ESPN cap; Big Game football Bowl
    Sun., Jan. 5, 9 p.m. (ESPN); Mobile, Ala.
    Sol Republic deck; Timely Watch Co. watch; Mercury Luggage Seward Trunk luggage bag; Wilson football

    Vizio BCS National Championship Game
    Mon., Jan. 6, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN); Pasadena, Calif.
    Gift suite; Fossil watch; New Era 59Fifty Hat; Oakley Flak Pack XL backpack (at right)   

    ^ To be spent during the team’s official store visit. Balance not used that day will be forfeited.
    Notes: All times listed are ET. Product details are provided as they were available. Most watches, rings, clothing, luggage and footballs are custom-made with the bowl logo. Gift suites are set up as private events in which game participants, and often bowl VIPs, are given an order form and allowed to select a gift, or gifts, up to a value that is predetermined by each specific bowl, not to exceed the NCAA limit of $550 per person.

    Compiled by David Broughton and Brandon McClung

    Sources: Bowl committees and vendors

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